Bearden Investments - A Real Estate Energy Case Study

American small businesses spend more than $60 billion annually on energy costs. One of the primary challenges that a small business owner faces is to prevent that cost from eating too much of the business’ budget. A business needs to get creative in order to make changes that will lower its energy costs without sacrificing service, quality, comfort or style. In this real estate energy case study, we’re looking at how StarTex Power worked with one business to make those energy cost-saving changes happen.

Bearden Investments’ Challenge: Finding the Right Energy Supplier at the Right Price

Bearden Investments is a long-time StarTex Power customer. It has relied on StarTex Power as its electricity supplier to improve the bottom line. Bearden Investments is a Houston, Texas-based commercial real estate development and leasing company. It leases space to small businesses in Texas and around other parts of the Midwest. Jim Vetter, who handles the company’s accounts and operations, says that about 30 percent of its tenants are HVAC wholesalers.

Because real estate is a market-driven industry, business owners have to be especially sensitive to maintaining a budget that can withstand some fluctuation. Bearden Investments started working with StarTex Power before it became part of Constellation. Vetter tells us that he tried another electricity provider at one time — but he came back to StarTex Power. Here’s why he returned:

In most instances, the deciding factor for a business when it comes to choosing an electricity provider comes down to one thing: Cost. This energy case study is no different.

“At one point I decided I hadn’t bid out electricity in years,” Vetter says, noting that Texas is an open choice market. “Everybody and his brother was repping energy. I was getting a lot of pressure to look into somebody else. I found a wholesaler who offered me all this great stuff. 

“So, I called my StarTex Power rep and said, ‘I can’t turn this down. It’s too good. It’s a big savings.’ He said, ‘We can’t match that price.’ This guy is a reseller so I went with him but all the promises dried up.”

Vetter explained that once he signed a contract with a new energy supplier, it was a “fiasco”. Although he had contracted for specific prices, he didn’t end up getting the service he had gotten before from StarTex Power. Less than a year after switching to the new supplier, Vetter called his StarTex Power rep and said, “I made a big mistake. We want to come back home.”

The Bearden Investments team realized that StarTex Power was the solution to the company’s energy needs. Switching to a different supplier meant a slightly lower cost, dollar-for-dollar, but it lacked the service and attention that StarTex Power provides.

Price isn’t everything, though. As Vetter quickly learned, the next challenge for any company is finding excellent customer service. In real estate, this can be an especially tricky proposition. When a prospective tenant needs to see a large industrial complex, the house power could need to be turned on and off at irregular intervals. There could also be variable electricity costs, depending on the space. Vetter acknowledges that it can be hard for an energy company to make that happen, which is why StarTex Power was Bearden’s best choice. 

StarTex Power’s Solution 

StarTex Power has the ultimate goal of providing each customer with a solution that works. We asked Vetter what Bearden Investments needed from an energy provider. In response, “StarTex Power came up with a reasonable plan and price. They’ve gone above and beyond with all the questions and help we have needed over the years. Anytime I call with a question, they’re willing to stop what they’re doing and help me find the answer.”

What is the answer? For Bearden Investments, it includes figuring out strategies to help lower their small business energy costs. Figuring out the right length of contract for their company rate is critical, Vetter says. “When we try to decide [whether to go] one, two or three years on a contract, [StarTex Power helps] me understand where they think the [electricity] market is going to be during that period of time and make the right judgment call on the term of contract,” Vetter said. This way, Bearden Investments can keep its budget in check because Vetter can anticipate the future energy cost to the company.

Bearden Investments’ Results

Aside from working the details of a contract and finding the most cost-effective rate for Bearden Investments’ business, StarTex Power has helped the company to make better energy-saving choices. Vetter says that he understands the potential energy savings that come from making changes like switching to LED lights. The company has been able to reduce consumption by taking StarTex Power’s energy-saving guidance seriously. As Vetter put it, “They provide customer service beyond giving me a price.” As an energy case study, we’d call Bearden Investments a success! Working with StarTex Power has allowed the company to cut costs and save.